- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

BALTIMORE [-] Three things you can count on when the New York Yankees come to Camden Yards: The game will last more than three hours, much of the crowd will be rooting for the visitors and something wacky will happen late in the game.
Last night's series opener between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles lasted 3:09, and seemingly one-third of the 41,583 spectators on a sauna-like, 97-degree night were unabashedly cheering for the Yankees. And sure enough, in the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles pulled off a wacky play that proved the difference in a 4-3 victory.
With teammate Brian Roberts breaking for the plate, Jerry Hairston laid down a perfect suicide squeeze, bringing home the winning run and giving Baltimore its third straight victory. Owners of a 36-38 record, the Orioles have won three in a row for the first time since a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals from May 2 to 5.
Baltimore returned home from a 10-game trip last night and continued to play solid baseball against a top opponent. The Orioles put three early runs up against New York lefty Andy Pettitte, withstood an average outing from Sidney Ponson and rallied to score the winning run on the riskiest play in baseball.
"That's how we have to play right now," Roberts said. "That's the way I've played my whole life, so it's fun to play that kind of baseball. I think it drives other teams crazy."
Roberts and Hairston, the young second basemen in direct competition for playing time, joined forces to pull this one off. With the Orioles back in their home park and playing by American League rules for the first time in nearly two weeks, manager Mike Hargrove was able to start both players. Roberts, serving as DH, singled off Pettitte (1-2) to lead off the seventh, then advanced to third on a base hit by Melvin Mora.
Yankees manager Joe Torre summoned Ramiro Mendoza to face Hairston, who was starting at second base. And before Mendoza threw his 1-1 pitch, Hargrove put the squeeze on, and Hairston executed perfectly. Just as Roberts took off, Hairston dropped a bunt to the right side. Mendoza had no play at the plate and with no one covering first, Hairston legged out a single.
Willis Roberts (4-2), who came in to replace Ponson in the seventh, retired five of the six batters he faced to get the victory. Jorge Julio earned his 16th save, retiring Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi on groundballs with the tying run in scoring position.
Since a third-inning mound visit by shortstop Mike Bordick June 3 at Yankee Stadium, Ponson has been brilliant, carrying a 2.10 ERA (though no wins) over his last four starts into last night's game. He wasn't the same pitcher in this one, battling control problems and needing 107 pitches to get through six innings.
But he kept the damage to a minimum: a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano in the game's first at-bat, a solo shot by Jeter in the third and an RBI single by Robin Ventura in the fifth.Notes [-] Desperate for some left-handed bullpen help, the Orioles purchased Yorkis Perez from Class AAA Rochester. Perez, 34, has pitched for five major league teams, most recently Houston in 2000. He'll join Buddy Groom in middle and late relief, with struggling lefty B.J. Ryan (7.56 ERA over his last 24 appearances) getting a chance to work out his problems in less dangerous situations.
Rookie right-hander Sean Douglass was sent down to Rochester, where he will get a chance to pitch every fifth day. Douglass had appeared in just seven games for Baltimore since his April 25 call-up. To make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, injured right-hander Calvin Maduro (right elbow surgery) was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
First baseman Jeff Conine, out with a strained right hamstring, began strengthening exercises. Conine is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but it's looking more likely that he won't be ready to return.
The Orioles' D.C. Summer FanFest takes place today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Farragut Square.

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